Two suns reached their highest point. A shivering haze rose over the sand that was heated by the suns. Kojo and his sisters rode into town on desert horses. On their morning hunt, they caught a few antelopes and looked forward to that delicious meal. The hunters were met by their father staying at the gate. The face of the older lion was serious, and the slightly grey mane was braided into ritual braids. He waited while his children dismounted and handed the quarry to the servants. The head of the pride knew that an unpleasant conversation with his son is inevitable, so he did not want to rush.
“Kodjo!” He called his son.
“Yes, father?” The young lion was glowing today as he was very happy after the successful hunt.
“Among my children, you are the most courageous and talented one. You matured very quickly and turned into an incredible warrior for your age. It means that it’s time for you to leave the pride, and find or conquer new lands to create your own kingdom. I don’t want to let you go, but the pride leader must observe traditions. Take everything you need for your journey, choose the best horse, and don’t forget armour and weapons. You must go once the new moon rises, and the mothers and I will accompany you.”
The suns rolled towards sunset. Kodjo and his friend Amadi sat on the roof of one of the tallest buildings in the city. The lion silently stared at the streets below. The gnoll inhaled from a long earthen tube braided with beads and turned to his friend.
“So it means there are a couple more days and this is it…” There was an awkward pause. “Have you decided where you will go?”
“Fight the dead?” Amadi was surprised. “These lands are still cursed. There’s no point in trying to get them back now.”
“No. I’ll go farther.”
“To people?” Gnoll shrugged and inhaled. “Oh, I’d better suggest fighting with the dead then.”
“There are not only people behind the cursed lands. And there are no such idiotic traditions like “grow up, then get out of the house…”, all of this. Are we animals?”
“Traditions arose for a purpose.”
“It’s easy for you to say. Gnolls never had such customs.”
“Who knows who knows.” Amadi smiled mysteriously. “Although I see what kind of a rebel you are and start thinking about the importance of those things. You hang out with gnolls and hunt with your sisters. Traditions are just a part of animal life.”
Kodjo involuntarily growled at the gnoll’s words, thus confirming it.
“See!” Amadi laughed. “Big and terrible beast. You can’t help yourself, can you?”
For another second, the lion tried to suppress the roar and then laughed.
“Sometimes it seems you know me better than myself.” Kodjo looked up at the first stars that appeared in the sky.
“Who knows.” The gnoll smiled wider. “I think you’re ready for the journey.”
Amadi took a puff of his clay pipe and exhaled a cloud of slow smoke that enveloped the gnoll from head to foot. The smoke cleared in a second, and the place where he sat already was empty. Kodjo sighed, smiling at his friend’s usual trickery, got up and went to get ready for the road. This conversation made him really prepared for the new challenge.